Columnist With a View
Recently, I read an article on the Internet listing several “Christian” businesses which, according to the article, included Alaskan Airlines, Pura Vida, Zondervan Publishing House and, of course, Chick-fil-a. Christian schools, publishing houses, thrift stores and other enterprises owned and operated b the Salvation Army, the Mormon Church and various other denominations also fit the category. None is threatened!
I came across this article while researching the idea that a concerted effort, a consolidated pressure group whose goal it is to destroy Christianity, is afoot in this country. What movement? Where? As I have pointed out on several occasions, a significant majority of Americans (I, by family heritage, among them) are Christians.
It is virtually impossible to drive along any major highway or street in this country without encountering Christian churches. Architecturally, they are hard to miss! None appear to be in danger of imminent attack. Outwardly, at least, they appear to be doing rather well.
What is underway, I suspect, is an understated movement to prevent Christian churches from becoming a major political force in this country. America is not, and never was meant to be, a theocracy. We are a nation made of the fabric of diversity and the freedom of persuasion.
In 1962, for example, the U. S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling which stated that “official prayer had no place in public education.” The decision has been widely misunderstood. The court had no vendetta against religion. “The court did not rule that students cannot pray on their own; the justices said that government officials cannot compose a prayer for students to recite.”
In 1963, the Court handed down another ruling which said school-sponsored Bible reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer was unconstitutional.
Both rulings, despite being erroneously interpreted by Christians, were appropriate decisions. No child should be forced to participate in a prayer which goes against his or her personal religious beliefs, and no child should have been discriminated against because he or she chose not to participate in reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
Let me make it perfectly clear: The church and the home are the fitting places for religious education. They are suitable places for prayer. They are proper places for Christians to recite the Lord’s Prayer. The church and the home are not the only place where these activities are acceptable, but public schools should not be among them!
In the late 1700s, my ancestors were driven from the Crown Colony of New Jersey because they were Baptists. They did not whine that the Crown was trying to destroy Christianity. They packed up their belongings and moved to the western frontier where they could practice their religion as they purposed in their hearts.
When churches are torched, bibles are consigned to the flames, ministers are martyred, and it is illegal to openly profess one’s Christian beliefs–then Christianity will be under attack! Until then, can we move away from the flammable rhetoric and paranoia which does Christianity no good whatsoever?
Columnist With a View
I am not surprised that many Christians are offended when confronted with basic facts about their religion which seem to be familiar only to theologians and Bible scholars. After all, the vast majority of Christians have neither taken a course in Church History nor considered the quality of life in first century Palestine.
Christians were taught most of what they know in Sunday schools by well-meaning lay teachers and from snippets of the Bible generally read out-of-sequence with little or no regard for context.
I am surprised when I say to someone that Jesus was a Jew, and their astonished retort is, “No, he wasn’t. He was a Christian!”
I am appalled when I read, as I did in a Letter to the Editor in a recent issue of The (Huntington, WV) Herald-Dispatch, a reference to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible as “the Bible Jesus used.” All one has to do is “google it” to learn “The King James Version (KJV), also known as the Authorized Version (AV) or King James Bible (KJB), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611.”
Then, a host of sincerely, well-meaning but wrong folks are ready to do battle when I tell them the earliest converts were required to become Jews (including the rite of circumcision) before they could become Christians! This issue was taken up by the first church council in Jerusalem around AD50.
The most aghast reaction comes when I share with folks that none of the earliest Christians were Trinitarian. None, I say! The doctrine of the Trinity was not fully formulated and approved until the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century.
Now, to the life and travels of Jesus…. There were no commonly-accepted amenities in those days. No motels! No combs or brushes! No toothpaste! No bathrooms! No toilet tissue! When Jesus and his disciples arrived at homes where they were invited to spend the night they were tired, sweaty, smelly and with the disheveled appearance of travel-weary vagabonds.
The Bible as we know it? There was no Bible in manageable, readable form for several centuries following the time of Jesus and St. Paul. The closest any church council came to agreeing as to what should be in the Canon (cf. the Protestant and Douay versions) was the Third Synod of Carthage (AD397). It is important to mention that, for the most part, the proceedings of this Synod have been lost.
Complicating matters further, if there had been bibles for the common folk, I seriously doubt the people of Jesus’ day could’ve read them. They were mostly illiterate. Often I think that modern-day folks who constantly misrepresent their faith with outright untruths and lack of knowledge of their religious background are, too. Either illiterate or ignorant….
My friends, your pastor should have already told you these things in Bible study; but then, he or she wanted to keep his or her job. What a shame!